GrayMatter Robotics, an AI-robotics startup based in Los Angeles, has been awarded $1 million by the National Science Foundation one week after closing a $4.1 million seed funding round.
The grant was awarded by the foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) division with the aim to accelerate the startup’s R&D efforts on Smart Robotic Cells for Surface Finishing & Treatment Applications, which is set to change the finishing stages of the manufacturing process forever. Dr. Elizabeth Mirowski, SBIR/STTR Program Director at NSF, referred to the grant by stating:
“We are excited to support the technology that can help improve the quality of human lives. The technology GrayMatter is developing will enable manufacturers to sustain their business in the U.S. while offering employees better job opportunities not involving tedious and ergonomically challenging tasks.”
The SBIR mission being to improve the quality of life of manufacturing workers by reducing the time spent on tedious, repetitive, and detrimental operations. The automation solutions developed by GrayMatter will allow employees to focus on other aspects of the manufacturing process such as high-level decision making. Not only will this be beneficial for the workers by addressing health concerns but will also improve the quality of the final product and the overall efficiency of the process. Ariyan Kabir, co-founder and CEO of GrayMatter Robotics, said about this shared mission:
“We want to improve shop workers’ lives, enhance their productivity, and enable them to focus on higher-value tasks. Manufacturing drives our economy, and without automating surface finishing and treatment, there is a significant risk the global economy may suffer due to an increasing labor shortage.”
GrayMatter Robotics was previously awarded a phase I SBIR/STTR grant for $256k, with the $1 million grant being part of Phase 2 of the program, which is a reflection of the potential of the fundamental technologies developed by the startup. The National Science Foundation is not the only organization supporting the startup’s efforts, as firms like Stage Venture Partners, Calibrate Ventures, 3M Ventures, OCA Ventures, Pathbreaker Ventures, and B Capital Group all joined the $4.1 seed funding round back in late September.
While much has been said about the risks of automation , many experts agree that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks and are not only economical but also for the benefit of employees. GrayMatter Robotics’s solution aims to be such an example by reducing the risk of injury, stress, and workload for employees while adding value to their labor and providing them with the chance to generate new skills.